At a recent event held in honor of Lone Soldiers from North America all of whom are alumni from the youth group known as NCSY which is run by the Orthodox Union (OU), OU Israel Director Avi Berman spoke to Arutz Sheva about the important contribution that youngsters who choose to come and serve in the IDF from abroad make for their country, and  the example it sets for people back home.

“These youngsters come to me and say 'Avi, why are you thanking us, we are doing what we have to do.' I tell them that you are volunteering three years of your life to come and do the IDF or one year to do national service to a country that you have no legal obligation to, what you are saying is that morally you want to give back. That is an unbelieveable message. We are seeing the Jewish people understanding that we are one. It doesn’t matter where you were born, but if you are Jewish then you are connected to the entire 13 million Jewish people that are unified and standing together.”

More than just the message within the Jewish people, Berman feels that the message of the lone soldiers is an international one. “The message that is being sent here, that we are sending to the world, is that no matter how many stabbing attacks, or other attacks we face, people have tried to kill us for 3,000 years and no one will succeed.”

Berman talked about the discussion lead by Miriam Peretz a widow who lost both of her sons while they were serving in the IDF. “To hear Miriam, who has inspired so many and who has had her own loss, to hear her thank the American and Canadian soldiers, to thank these NCSY alumni who have come here to serve, that is an unbelieveable recognition of thanks that we can show these kids.”

Peretz gave a talk to the volunteer soldiers and national service participants in which she said, “If Uriel and Eliraz [my sons] were here, they would say that they had not died in vain.” Peretz continued her inspiring talk to the volunteers. “It is not a simple thing to come and enlist when you don’t have to. You leave everything behind you and you come to fight for the land  of Israel and the people of Israel. Especially at a time when others are debating whether or not to enlist. It moves me as a bereaved mother to see youngsters such as yourself.”

Rabbi Yehoshua Marchuck the Director of NCSY Alumni said that the service which the youngsters are doing for Israel, “inspires and gives us chizuk back home to NCSY’ers in North America.”

One of the NCSY alumni and participants in national sevice at Sharei Tzedek hospital in Jerusalem, Tova Berman, said that the opportunity of doing national service “is an incredible opportunity for someone to give back to Israel. You spend your whole life getting from ISrael, and having everyone give to you. Now we get to give back. Whatever people need in the hospital, whether it be patients, nurses or doctors we are there for them. Whether it is giving them a smile or bringing them a pudding. That’s our job.”

Tova compared the relationship that the volunteers have with Israel. “In America you have your family and your community, but you don’t have your real family and your real community. Your family is. I have a lot of love and gratitude to America, but Israel is home!”